AG wants Mama Ngina waterfront suit dismissed

Mama Ngina waterfront in Mombasa. A group has expressed fears of locals not being allowed to do business at the recreational park.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • According to the AG, the case filed by rights groups and four Mombasa residents is misleading the court.
  • Through litigation counsel Nguyo Wachira, the AG Wednesday said the applicants failed to disclose that the government is the registered owner of the waterfront.

Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki wants a case challenging the legality of a board formed by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala to manage the refurbished Mama Ngina waterfront dismissed.

According to the AG, the case filed by rights groups and four Mombasa residents is misleading the court.

Through litigation counsel Nguyo Wachira, the AG Wednesday said the applicants failed to disclose that the government is the registered owner of the waterfront.

The AG said  part of the application is misleading by claiming the land is held by the county government of Mombasa and administered by the National Land Commission.

“The initial applicants failed to disclose that there were consultations before the Tourism CS issued a gazette notice dated August 28, 2019,” the AG argued.

Tourism and Wildlife PS Safina Kwekwe said the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) retains the mandate to ensure the heritage value of the site is preserved.

The AG said the suspension orders issued earlier have affected the ongoing improvement works.

“The suit has been commenced via half-truths and failure to wilfully serve the pleading in good time,” the application said.

In June, Justice Eric Ogola reinstated the case he had dismissed on November 14 , 2019, when parties failed to appear for hearing.

“Every person has the right to have any dispute that can be resolved by the application of law decided in a fair and public hearing before a court or if appropriate, another independent and impartial tribunal or body,” the judge said.

The rights groups and the residents said once the board is allowed to manage the recreational park, local traders would be rendered destitute.

“Mombasa locals conducting business at the waterfront may be locked out and licences issued to an exclusive group of affluent people, companies and individuals who have the ability to pay huge permit fees,” the applicants said.

They also expressed fear that the waterfront may exclusively serve tourists and lock out residents.

The groups and locals want the takeover stopped, arguing that the ministry has no legal capacity to manage the waterfront.

They are also seeking an order stopping Mr Balala from appointing a management board to the waterfront.

The applicants argue that the waterfront is a public facility held in trust by the devolved government for the people of Mombasa.

“The waterfront includes historical sites and monuments that capture our heritage. Its management was vested on the NMK by the operation of the law,” part of the suit documents state.

The application will be heard on November 10.

pmuyanga@ke.nationmedia.